Does your company want to share details about a product’s benefits? How about helping clients solve a problem using your services as part of a solution? It is this type of information that makes blogging a simple tool to get those messages to your customer base. However, it is easy to have a loss for words, not have the time, or not know where to begin. Longtime social media and content professional Jennifer Wegman of Insight Info Solutions shares important tips in her Blogging for Manufacturers during this week’s #USAMfgHour chat on Twitter.
Blogging is a form of marketing communication for a manufacturer. It can be formal or a chance for brand creativity. A manufacturer can host the blogs on their own website and, from there, share short write-ups with information that helps promote the company’s products, services, and thought leadership. Wegman said blogs provide leverage for brands to grow their brand and bottom lines. She then asked the group if they blog or would like to and to share some blogging goals.
“I think blogging is a useful way to share and consume information,” said Obsidian Manufacturing. “Being able to share our own outlook on certain topics is important in becoming better and more complete professionals.”
“(Blogging is a way) to share informative content with an audience,” said NJMEP.org. “The goal is to provide real value to our clients which helps position ourselves as thought-leaders. Additionally, the right content, and construction can be a cornerstone of a Search Engine Marketing #SEM strategy.”
“I currently do not blog,” said Advanced Superabrasives. “If I were to start one, my goals for it would be brand and product awareness, SEO and of course acquiring and retaining customers.”
“We do and, quite frankly, it's for SEO purposes. Primarily to keep the site growing and from becoming stale,” said Cleveland Deburring.
“It was a goal we established for 2020, to complete at least 2 blogs per month,” said DuraTech. “Our goal is to get information out to our customers and prospects in a different method, explore products & Services in more depth.”
“Our goal with blogging is acting as a resource for relevant industry information and increasing brand awareness,” said Radwell.
“The goal of Snaptron's blog is to educate our customers or prospects about our dome switches. Like others mentioned, our blog is also a key piece of our SEO strategy,” said Snaptron.
“The goal of our blog is to inform and educate. We want people to have a better understanding of us and our products (or other topics sometimes) without having to read a technical manual (snooooze),” said Dynamatic.
“We do blog! For us, it's a way to let folks know what we've been up to,” said Spaceguard. “I feel blogging is a way to let someone know how you personally view a subject or product, which is what we blog about, customers, and products.”
“Always have a goal in mind for blogging,” Wegman advised. “What strategic purpose is it serving for your business? How will you know if you’re getting a return on investment?
Something to Talk About
Coming up with topics and sharing ideas can be daunting sometimes. However, Wegman said businesses should take their time to do blogging right by planning. She then challenged the group to think about focused topics.
“Manufacturing and all that it encompasses,” said Chenango Valley Technologies. “I could talk about what we do, what other mfgs do, skilled trades, networking and on and on it goes.”
“We do anything from products and services, to industry trends, as well as DuraTech culture, DuraTech events and news,” said DuraTech.
“I don't know. But my gut says to try broader topics like Small Business, Manufacturing, Trends, and incorporate personal stories, quotes, and experiences,” said Nick Rivers of Obsidian Manufacturing.
“ We like to showcase our state manufacturers, legislative news that benefits our clients, recaps of events, and informative content that will help our clients overcome challenges,” said NJMEP.
“I would talk about: Materials, Coatings, Cutting Tools, How are the tools made, etc.,” said SCTools.
“We mainly provide information about dome switches but, we are in the process of branching out and covering topics like haptic technologies or human machine interfaces to present Snaptron as a thought leader in the switch industry,” said Snaptron.
“So far, we have used archived technical data that is still relevant to our products now. We are working our way into more current event topics,” said Sue Nordman of Obsidian Manufacturing.
“The topics you talk about should always resonate with your audience in some way. If you inspire, educate, or entertain them, then you can’t go wrong,” said Wegman. She also said blogs are a way to inspire, educate, and entertain. Blogs are also a way to extend conversations with others for more engagement via social media, company newsletters, and short videos, as just a few examples.
Like any marketing content, timing is important. How often should a business share a blog post? No matter the frequency, consistency is key and organization makes a difference, Wegman said.
“In the past at #ObsidianMFG, we have done one every few months. With the expansion of the marketing department, the goal to ramp it up to at least once a month!,” said Obsidian.
“We publish our blog monthly. There isn't much time for us to do more than that right now. Sometimes that's even a struggle,” said Dynamatic.
“We used to post once a week then that was tapered to once a month and now we haven't actually posted anything new since August,” said Cleveland Deburring. “With the COVID-19 wreaking havoc on our leads, we've re-allocated those resources to an AdWords program temporarily.”
“We post weekly on Wednesdays. It has taken some time to get as organized as we are but we are now usually scheduled at least 2 months out,” said Radwell.
“Prefer to post every other week. One each month will be a pretty short and straightforward post geared toward raising awareness, the other would be a deeper dive that is more educational than pitch,” said Stablz.
“We aim to post 1-2 times a month. But, ideally, we would like to post more frequently. I think user-driven content or guest blogs would be a great way to close this gap,” said Snaptron.
“Post once a day though compared to everyone else, we tend to do more microblogging via social media than the traditional sort where you write a large article. Again, establish credibility,” said Northeast Demand Supply.
“ I think this is important, because when a blog goes stale, it can make it look like your site and company are inactive and outdated,” said Aviate Creative.
“Don’t over-promise and under-deliver. If you can only do it once a month, then do it once a month. You can always add more later,” said Wegman.
Keeping readers engaged is another hot point in blogging, Wegman said. What are some tips businesses have for reader engagement and maintaining an audience?
“I try to tell a story and leave readers with some action ideas or thought-provoking questions for reflection,” said author Dondi Scumaci. “I try to create a personal connection with the information. For example: How could you apply this strategy to your most pressing challenge? Or, as a leader, what do you need to do more or less of?”
“Keeping the blog content short is important for us to keep readers engaged. Another thing we are started to explore is embedding videos into the post. This way the content can be read or watched,” said Snaptron.
Some things businesses can do to keep readers engaged, Aviate Creative suggests, are:
- Write to what they care about
- Speak to their pain points & concerns
- Offer useful and applicable advice
- Offer useful resources
- Ask questions
- Provide answers to typical questions
“We try to keep content fresh, not only blogging once a month, but with new and different articles. We're still learning what our audience likes to read,” said Dynamatic.
“Given that we rent scaffolds and trucks and sell hi-viz, we tend to switch between the two topics. Keeps readers on edge and anticipating getting dunked with knowledge. With a consistent emphasis of safety first, always,” said Northeast Demand.
“Always include a call-to-action (or CTA) with every post. Ask a question they can answer. Encourage them to share a story. Something. Let them engage with you!,” said Wegman.
Once that masterpiece blog post is written and includes a solid call to action, it will almost certainly land with a thud without some sort of promotion. What do you do with that blog post and how do you use it to gain website traffic and sales traction?
“I suppose I hope that my posts generate or initiate a conversation with my followers. At least that's the intent,” said Northeast Demand.
“Share on social media-I share the same post with different descriptions and different key photo at least three times. Spread out over a month,” said Radwell.
“Share them EVERYWHERE. All social platforms, website, email newsletter, etc. The more eyes we can on the blog, the more likely we are to achieve the goal of reaching customers/consumers with information they could find useful,” said Obsidian.
“We share them on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and our Google Business page,” said Cleveland Deburring.
“Exactly. Share, share, share!,” said Power Drives. “You keep readers engaged by speaking directly to them and their wants/needs/concerns.”
“A good distribution strategy is as important as the content you're creating. We have room to grow here. We share via email with current customers and prospects, and we also distribute across social media,” said Snaptron.
“Always repurpose your blog posts by piecing them out into separate social media posts. Don’t just share the link once and be done,” Wegman said. “You need to get it in front of as many people as possible as often as possible! Always be sharing. Share old blog posts consistently over time so that new people can see them. You should have them on a rotation. Turn blog posts into 3-5 individual social media posts. Make a video. Use them as inspiration for other posts and content. Create a spreadsheet. Every time you write a post, put three ‘teaser’ social posts together. Then, post them on rotation consistently.”
Some of the challenges manufacturers face when it comes to blogging is finding a solid topic to relate to their audiences and dedicating time to a blog plan. Other challenges:
“For me personally, it is being so new to the industry. I've written articles and blogs within the sports industry but coming up with manufacturing and business content is a little more challenging at this point while I am navigating my way into the industry,” said Obsidian.
“Finding a good BUT affordable content writer. We have one now but we've been through a number of them in the last year or two especially,” said Cleveland Deburring.
“Being more than just white noise,” said Northeast Demand.
“So true. People are overloaded with information. How do we cut through the noise?,” asked Scumaci. “Being consistent and coherent. My blog is more like random flashes of insight.”
“Time. Carving out time to write an informative piece is part of the challenge. However, taking manageable bites out of an article helps ensure content development never stops,” said NJMEP.
“It's always a balance between being informative and providing too much information,” said Power Drives.
Remember that imperfect action is better than perfect inaction, said Wegman. “The more you blog, the better you’ll get at it. Face your big challenge head one and commit to taking one action this week to overcome it and do some blogging.”
Anyone who champions U.S. manufacturing can join in on a new conversation each week on Twitter using the hashtag #USAMfgHour. The chat starts at 11 a.m. Pacific Standard Time/2 p.m. Eastern. Share positive blog posts, helpful articles, news, important information, accomplishments, events, and more with other manufacturers and supporters from throughout the country.
Are you interested in hosting a #USAMfgHour chat? Contact organizers @CVTPlastics, @DCSCinc, and @SocialSMktg.